Decima is a centuries-old Italian city on the water, a vanity project meant to be a fairy tale escape for the titled and the privileged. But something in the distant past had turned it into a murky, putrid dreamscape instead, a crumbling city haunted by a scourge of revenants whose origins and purpose now seem destined to be hidden in the shadows forever. Not even the brave, dogged attempts at fighting midnight creatures by the descendants of a select bloodline can rid the city of the near-daily threat.
Michele De Santis is a young minor sorcerer, a reluctant champion who, along with his twin sister and his cousin, has lost too much through the years and has resigned himself to a life of endless midnight hunts while selling healing and protection spells and artifacts during the day. A life of loneliness, of a forced solitude in a desperate bid at keeping collateral damage at a minimum appears to be his only future.
When long-dead corpses suddenly turn without vampire bites, logical patterns no longer hold true, leaving the weary hunters baffled and unsure for the first time. Decima's bronze guardians fall silent for no reason, a dark, binding spell muting their warnings. A long-abandoned church shows signs of life in the most grotesque ways imaginable. And everything seems to point to an unknown threat, one that's long lain dormant but has been awakened by the arrival of a young English heir and his amateur antiquarian uncle.
Romance and the gothic layer 'Hell-Knights' with the dark, rich textures of an alternate universe Europe, a nineteenth century world where magic reigns supreme, and love knows no gender.
Decima has not seen prosperity in quite some time but now there's an increase in vampire activity, but not just the normal vampires, these are turning without bites and not just the recently deceased but the long dead too. Michele De Santis is one of the current sorcerers tasked with keeping the peace and safety of the citizens of the dying community. Gabriel Latham has come with his scholar uncle to catalog intriguing history of the area. When these two meet nothing will ever quite be the same, but will it be better?
Hell-Knights is an alternate universe historical paranormal romance, now I know what some might be asking: isn't paranormal already alternate universe? Well, yes, perhaps but what justifies both labels is the historical part, more precisely the acceptance of LGBT relationships and the knowledge of otherworldly happenings as part of the norm. Personally, none of that is really important when you have a story that is so well scripted from minor scene setting to huge angsty life-changing disasters by an author that obviously respects her readers and the power of words to pay attention to those details.
This tale is set in the same gothic universe as the author's Guardian Angel and The Flowers of St. Aloysius, now for me Hell-Knights didn't quite grab me with the same intensity as the others but that is not to say its not brilliant, because it is. Michele and Gabriel are a perfect match even if they don't immediately jump at the chances at that "something special" in front of them. Even though Hell may not have spoken to me the way the other entries to the author's AU I still felt as if I was there, everything is presented so intricately I felt as if I opened my front door, turned on my porch light I would be looking at the streets of Decima.
Such a wonderful blend of mystery, romance, paranormal, historical, and it's all wrapped up in a glorious gothic bow. I can't wait to see what else Hayden Thorne comes up with for this AU.
I’ve lived most of my life in the San Francisco Bay Area though I wasn’t born there (or, indeed, the USA). I’m married with no kids and three cats and am a cycling nut.
I started off as a writer of young adult fiction, specializing in contemporary fantasy, historical fantasy, and historical genres. My books ranged from a superhero fantasy series to reworked and original folktales to Victorian ghost fiction. I've since expanded to New Adult fiction, which reflects similar themes as my YA books and varies considerably in terms of romantic and sexual content.
While I've published with a small press in the past, I now self-publish my books.